Misadventures with Miso

Misadventures with Miso

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Can You Zenbu?

 If you end up in SE Portland you could Zenbu. One day I went for a drive and made a stop in Sellwood. A nice little Portland neighborhood with it's own little food cart culture.

 Zenbu is located about a block away from the main food truck pod. But worth the extra block if you are into sushi, especially sushi rolls which is the main portion of their menu. They also have katsu, a couple chicken dishes, and fish tacos which I need to try.

This trip I went with the chef's choice nigiri combo. While they have a lot of rolls, I find going simpler is a better way to see if a place is quality in their fish and sushi rice. For the price this was a pretty darn good set of nigiri. I might be wrong but from left to right it was most likely snapper, probably escolar (no problems so might have been something else), farmed salmon, yellow tail and lastly maguro tuna.

I'm going to make at least one trip back this summer not just to try their fish tacos but there is also a Ukranian food cart near by called Russian Horse which I want to check out.

Zenbu is located at 7909 SE 13th Ave, Portland, OR, 97202 and their website is here. They also have a Facebook page that lists their daily specials here.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Eating at Amelia's in Hillsboro

A while back I was looking for some place in Northwest Oregon that served good fish tacos. It seemed a number of people liked Amelia's in Hillsboro for a cheap lunch. So I thought I would check it out.

I had hoped for a la carte tacos but sadly they only had platters. Which were not that cheap for lunch. But I went with it even though it was more food than I normally eat for lunch.

The beans and rice were tasty and the platters looked very colorful.

The fish tacos were loaded with lettuce and tomato salsa.

They weren't bad but were a bit spicy for me. So I'm afraid Amelia's didn't make it to my short list of places I go to for fish tacos. Although they do look like they have a loyal following and perhaps sometime I may try something else there when I am really hungry for Mexican food.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Dining at DaNet

One of the great things about the dining scene in Portland is how pop-ups have thrived. It's a great way for chefs to experiment and to cook food that they really love. One such pop-up is DaNet, Chef Vitaly Paley's homage to Russian cuisine. I decided to check it out last month.

DaNet is held in the Portland Penny Diner. Gone is the diner seating, replaced by barrels, candles and Russian tchotchkes. Upon entering we were offered a choice of three drinks while we waited to be seated.

Waiters brought around trays of hors d'oeuvres like this deviled egg seasoned with anchovies

and little potato blini with smoked salmon, dill and sour cream. As delicious as these were one should limit eating them because the dinner ahead was no small feast.

At the table there were place cards for each reservation and two menus for the night's meal including one which listed the drink pairings. I sat with the family of a guy who was recently hired so I was able to sample a little bit of the wine pairings. I have to say they were innovative and very good. I would recommend this if one wants to drink with the dinner. Thomas Hebenstreit is the wine director for the restaurants and he is very knowledgeable.

First up were plates of pickles including potatoes and mushrooms.

Along with that there were platters of traditional blini with seawater cured salmon caviar, butter and sour cream with dill.

Plus cured meats

and bowls of Salade Olivier and also Ash Roasted Beet Pkhali which is a chopped vegetable dish. Due to taking photos in candle light mine did not turn out that well so no photo of that.

But I do have photos of all the buterbrod they served us.

This is still the first course. While the courses were served Chef Paley spoke about the dishes and his inspirations for the courses.

I tried to limit what I ate in the first course because the second was a Schi Bogatye which was a wildlife soup with sauerkraut along with a Nyanya Rastegai. That was a buckwheat stuffed hand pie filled with mushrooms. We were told to drip some of the broth into the pie and put a bit of the sour cream and onions and herbs on the soup. The pie was delicious and with the soup, since wild game and beef is not something I eat I focused instead on the sauerkraut which was amazing. Chef Paley said they pickle it with cranberries. I have now found another pickled food that I want to try making.

On to the third course which was this beauty. I found out later that Imperial's Chef de Cuisine Doug Adams crafted this Kulebyaka.

Topped with viziga cracklings (sturgeon) the flaky dough surrounded layers of morel mushrooms, king salmon and rice draped in a wonderful butter sauce. This was one of the best things I have ever eaten in my lifetime. It was as if nothing else existed while I enjoyed it's deliciousness. Really was perfection in a dish.

Being totally satiated we all sat around while Chef Paley set up our final course which included tea from this samovar.

Sugars and honey were set out for diners. The glass near this was pickle juice which came with the vodka flight.

Dessert was not lacking either. Plates of rhubarb jam filled donuts and bird's milk cookies

along with bake milk ice cream bon bons and mom's cacoa and sour cream layer torte were set out.

Which we enjoyed with cups of hot tea. I really could not eat another bite but the desserts were so good I did try each one.

Since there were a couple left I was able to take them home. Which was really nice that I could try them again. The donut was so good I think Pips would have a challenger if Chef Paley ever wanted to open a donut shop.

I also had a couple with a cup of Smith Tea Brahmin black tea. Even a day or two later they were still delicious, especially that torte.

Well that was an outstanding meal. I hope some day I can have another DaNet dinner, or at least kulebyaka again. It was truly worth trying.

If you are interested in dining at DaNet, information can be found at Imperial Portland Restaurant's website which is here. Reservations are needed and can be made by calling the Imperial. Right now the dinners are once a month. And if you go, try not to eat too much beforehand.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Shimane Food Fair at Uwajimaya Market

 Something that I really miss is the great food fairs Mitsuwa Japanese Market would have. So I was really happy to find out that Uwajimaya in Beaverton and Seattle would be hosting a food fair with products from Shimane Prefecture! Not only that but they have a really cute yuru-chara called Shimanekko.

It was a grey day when I went but there were colorful flags in the parking lot. I was hoping they would have some really good items. They brought everything over from Shimane which is pretty unusual for Beaverton, Oregon.

Not only were there many things to choose from ranging from soba noodles, tea, fish and sweets but the people from Shimane offered a lot of samples. While they didn't take up a lot of space they sure had a lot on those tables. Plus there were more items at different aisle in the store. Definitely was worth checking out. 

I think I was taken with the different sweets they were offering. From top left clockwise that's Nakaura Yuzu Komochi Fukuro which is a wagashi from Matsue city. It is made with a paste of yuzu grown in Mito-cho, Shimane which is covered with soft mochi. Next to it is Daiso Enmusubi Ohagi which is sweet rice with red bean paste for one and kinako roasted soybeans for the other. On the right is Nakaura Dojyo Sukui Manju which are shaped like traditional dojyo sukui dancer faces. Dojyo Sukui means pond loach scooping. Pond loach are thin long eel like fish that are raised for food. The Dojyo Sukui is a comic folk dance and these manju are popular as omiyage for Shimane visitors to buy. The last three items on the bottom are dorayaki which is pancakes with a flavored paste in between. I picked up a strawberry and blueberry Hiyo Dorayaki and of course a Shimanekko Dorayaki. Sadly I didn't see any Shimanekko souvenirs. 

There were a lot of different fish cakes or kamaboko and items for oden for sale. I decided to go with fresh Sawara Yuzu Kosho which is wild Spanish Mackerel from Japan dressed with yuzu, salt and chili. The Matsumura Hijiki Furikake was really good so that was a must buy along with a bag of Sankoen Maccha Izumo Genmaich green tea with brown rice tea which also was really good.

As for that Sawara Yuzu Kosho, I broiled a couple pieces and enjoyed it on top of Sukina brand rice. The quality of this mackerel was very good and while there was a little heat from the chili the flavor of the yuzu matched it nicely. I'm looking forward to enjoying the rest of the mackerel.

I'm also thinking of going back to see if I missed anything, like maybe Shimanekko gotouchi? The Shimane Food Fair ends today, May 17th but goes through May 19th at the Uwajimaya Seattle store. I really hope they have more food fairs in the future. It's a great way to experience Japanese food items you might not normally get a chance to try.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Flash Back to Dining at Belmont Brewing Company in California

I've been working on reducing and organizing almost everything in my apartment which is why a lapse in posts. Never an easy thing to do but I am keeping the though in my mind that having less will make life a little easier.

 So to make it up I will take you to the beach.

Actually a pier at a beach. Belmont Shore Pier to be exact. In Southern California.

Located near the entrance to the pier is the Belmont Brewing Company which has been brewing ales since 1990. Of course you can come in and try a few.

Along with some rather good food. When I lived in Long Beach I made sure to stop in from time to time. From what I remember this mushroom pie was very much enjoyed.

I can personally speak for the pasta like this lobster ravioli which is still on their menu. I know I ordered it more than once. Nicely done with great flavor.

There is seating inside and out on their patio where you can watch the sun set over Long Beach Harbor and Golden Shore. Walk along the beach afterwards and see both natural and man-made islands.

 Here is a view looking from the bluffs of the pier and Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool.

It's been a few years since I've been there but it's good to see they are doing well and people are still enjoying the food and drink at Belmont Brewing Company. They are located at 25 39th Pl, Long Beach, CA 90803 and for more information their website is here.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Things Get Sweet with Decadent Creations

I am not a morning person. Less so as time has it's effect on me. But once in a while there is something worth getting up for.

Local favorite bakery creations is one of them. Decadent Creations was going from weekend seller at Beaverton Farmers Market to having a micro-shop. Which is why there was this long line in Hillsboro, Oregon the other day. The woman in red way down there?

That's Mindy Simmons, baker and owner of Decadent Creations, who had just happily ran down the line giving high fives to everyone.

Because Mindy Simmons isn't just a great baker but a very creative one. Like making this giant sugar cookie ribbon to be cut for the store opening.

You might be asking what's a micro-shop? I'd say it's the next step up from a pop-up. In Decadent Creations case it's actually pretty clever because they opened inside Fancy That, a party supply store in Hillsboro. So now people can do one stop shopping for their parties. I agree that's pretty awesome.

After waiting in line outside I finally made it into the store. I was customer 50 so I was given the last gift bag. I didn't think I would get one so that was nice. Says something when this many people show up at 10:30 am for a small store opening.

The inside of Fancy That is pretty colorful. Not just party supplies but also gifts and more. I spied a number of boxes of Smith Tea. I should go back and get a box of Julie's Original Cake Mix right?

Getting closer to Decadent Creations. They are located in the back of the store where there is also an entrance from the parking lot. Really cute furnishings and fridge that match the color scheme of the store.

Mindy and her husband. Both were beaming as they helped all the customers. Business has picked up since Mindy's appearance and win on the show Chopped. Decadent Creations has been popular with locals for a while but now demand has helped them reach this goal of a shop open most days. They also do special orders and sell cookies, bars and breads online.

Getting closer and finally being able to see what's in the case. The goods are baked at Mindy's professional kitchen and brought in daily.

Besides all the lovely cakes there were mini cupcakes and tarts. But the real temptation for me were those rainbow rows of macarons.

To the side was a clever set-up of cookie jars where customers can serve themselves along with breads. Payment was at the Fancy That registers which helped speed things up.

I chose a piece of Salty Dog Cake which has toffee chunks and salted ganache drizzle. It's nice to find cakes that are a step above the usual. The flavors of this were great and I definitely want to try a Salty Dog Brownie next. That and more chocolate chip cookies because the one in the gift bag reminded me of home made way more than most and was great.

As for those macarons, yes I got one of each. What can I say, I like macarons a lot. The flavor range was good from usual ones like pistachio and peppermint to honey, carrot cake and lemon lavender. I'm still eating my way through them but so far my favorites have been hazelnut, lemon lavender and salted caramel which was the best salted caramel macaron I have eaten. The balance of salt to sweet was perfect and the caramel flavor did not overwhelm but was just right. The cookies were crisp and light on the outside and the centers chewy and creamy. Just like a macaron should be.

It's great there is another choice for a bakery in the area and it's nice to see good people doing well and their business growing. I definitely plan on stopping in again especially since it means I don't have to get up early to go to the farmers market.

Decadent Creations is located inside Fancy That at 1336 NE Orenco Station Pkwy, Hillsboro, OR 97124. There isn't a big sign outside for Decadent Creations so look for Fancy That. Fancy That's website with directions and hours is here which is the same for the micro-store Decadent Creations.

Decadent Creations website is here. Hours and location and dates at the Beaverton Farmers Market are also listed plus you can order items online or set up getting special orders.